Q. Just had a query - what is aftercare? What does this actually involve? My dh and I have been experimenting, and I like being spanked, but he got really upset a few days later when he realized I had bruises all over my backside. Is there anything we could do to prevent this?
A. Aftercare is the physical and psychological care of a submissive after a BDSM scene. Physical aftercare consists of caring for the sub for things such as lingering pain or discomfort (from physical discipline, let’s say), skin irritation (wax play), stiff or sore muscles (bondage). These are generally dealt with using massage or the application of topical medications or lotions. This type of aftercare should be done after any sort of bondage play, rough sex, anal intercourse, intense physical discipline, wax play, or any other type of edge play.
The psychological aftercare of a sub is more of a debated topic. This type of aftercare is used to reassure the Dom/me and the sub of their relationship, to reconnect, to support and nurture, and to promote trust and well-being. Some believe that this type of aftercare should be performed after each and every scene. I, for one, don’t agree. I think that it depends on the players involved, their relationship, and the type of scene. Most players would agree that aftercare is needed after some of the following:
- Scenes involving humiliation
- Scenes involving pseudo-nonconsensual play
- Scenes with intense physical or emotional elements
- Scenes that have never been performed by the players – brand new activities
- Scenes in which the submissive uses their safe word
The last one, in particular, is one of the most essential because aftercare is as much for the Dom/me as the sub. The submissive needs to be reassured that using their safe word is encouraged when needed, and the Dom/me needs to be assured that the submissive is all right both physically and emotionally, and that the trust in their relationship is intact.
In regards to your second question – there are things both environmentally and during your play that you can do to help prevent bruising:
- Increase your intake of Vitamin K (green leafy vegetables, antioxidants)
- Switch from aspirin to ibuprofen
- Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun
- Apply ice to the area within the first 24 hours followed by wet heat
- Make sure to strike the fleshier parts of the body during play (buttocks away from the bone, thighs, etc.)
- Use a paddle that is light and broad rather than your hand, or a heavier implement. Use faster, more compact strokes to increase the sensitivity of the area being struck. This will allow you to maximize the sensation without injuring the affected skin.
One final remark on bruising - if you have a bruise that lasts longer than a week or so, make sure to discuss it with your physician. Bruising, even in BDSM play that does not dissipate can be a sign of a serious health issue.